Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The day of the wounded dove

The day of the wounded dove - Bikram Vohra - 21 September 2011.

PM Neville Chamberlain came back from Berlin, stood on the steps of the plane and shouted, “Peace in our times.”

That legendary announcement would culminate in WWII and the highest number of deaths in human history crossing the 40 million mark and estimated to be as high as 70 million by some historians.

And why bring this up now? Because peace to us is as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel. We seek it here, we seek there, we seek it everywhere but it never comes within our grasp.

Do you know that today is World Peace day? And the 30th anniversary of this noble endeavour that just did not catch the fancy of the media or the masses. Perhaps, no one truly believes that dedicating a day to the cause of peace will have any impact on conflict because the stench of cordite fills the air the other three-sixty-four.

Indeed, this sliver of information about Peace having its own 24 hours probably comes as a surprise. Very likely you are nonplussed. It is a sobering thought that seven out of 10 people would have no clue that the UN sponsors this day in a feeble if sincere effort to silence the guns of war. It is an ironic celebration in itself since there have been only 15 days of total peace on earth in the past 100 years. According to statistics, even those have been fragmented into smaller bits.

To give you an idea of what it is all about and how sad it is that the day usually passes us by like a renegade car on the wrong side of the road, here is the official version planted in Wikipedia.

“The International Day of Peace is dedicated to peace (pretty much stating the obvious) and specifically the absence of war, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone. It is observed by many nations, political groups, military groups and peoples. The first year this holiday was celebrated was 1981.

To inaugurate the day, the “Peace Bell” is rung at UN Headquarters (in New York City, United States). The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents. It was given as a gift by the United Nations Association of Japan, and is referred to as “a reminder of the human cost of war.” The inscription on its side reads: “Long live absolute world peace.”

It is a largely misplaced hope if we go by evidence but hope springs eternal.

“Individuals can also wear White Peace Doves to commemorate the International Day of Peace, which are badges in the shape of a dove produced by a non-profit organisation in Canada.”

Regrettably, World Peace is in the ICU and the dove is sorely wounded. Can we, at least, begin to recognise the fact that we are very close to the doomsday clock’s final seconds and if we do not pull back from the brink the abyss won’t be the one staring at us, it will be the other way around.

Even as we mark the day there are currently wars and conflicts occurring across the globe. Hotspots include Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Balochistan, the Niger, South Thailand, the Thai-Cambodian attrition, Somalia, insurgency in the Caucuses. Add to that the 12 acknowledged conflicts, which are ongoing and go back to 1964 with the Colombian armed warring and the Maoist insurgencies in India being the oldest.

The third dimension is the ongoing list which numbers 21 current battles for either statehood, repositioning of territorial rights or independence and autonomy and include Palestine, Kashmir and Turkey.

These are not just lists. They are actually soaked in blood with a minimum of 1,000 casualties per year per conflict. That is not a small number. The Somalian conflict took a toll of nearly 400,000 lives. Afghanistan is as high as two million.

So, if you do have a thought to spare or some time to express a certain solidarity with that rather abused label of ‘peace’ perhaps you can voice your concerns through the media, join the officially sponsored meets today in various earmarked places in your country and give it a chance before it dies on us completely.

To think this is the legacy we are handing to our children…we might know if it is Beyonce’s birthday but we have no idea about a day dedicated to global peace.

I endorse the views expressed above by Mr Bikram Vohra - Prathap G. Sharjah

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